Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Four days of Phoenix..

You will be planning to go to some place and at that same time your office sends you to the same place where you were planning to go. How do you feel?

Thatz exactly what happened when our client told me that they are sending me for a 4-day training to Phoenix. I always love to travel, exploring new places and meeting new people.Added to that, this time there was also an old Bangalore buddy whom I was to meet in Phoenix.

Day 1:
Sep 13,2005
Day started very early. The pretty airhostess who was checking our boarding pass was able to shrug my sleep to an extent. South West Airlines took off from LAX finally at 6am.The journey was a very short one for one & half hours. But I never saw that pretty looking airhostess in the plane again. May be she was there in Business class. It was again the case of ‘what you see is what you not get’!!! Before I finished Orange juice and bunch of songs in my iPod, plane landed in Phoenix.

From airport directly we went to Toyota office. Let me now introduce my colleague Jeanne Chu who is a Vietnamese-Chinese. In Phoenix office, we met our another classmate Clarice. The morning training session was very live with our instructor Dan in full form.

Lunch was at Mexican restaurant. Half my stomach got filled by seeing the waitresses and pretty crowd there. After lot of research, I was successful in customizing Burrito suiting my veggie taste. Indeed the Burrito was yummy. Rest of my gang had their own pleasure grabbing variety of Burritos.

Phoenix is lot hot compared to Torrance or Los Angeles.There are cactus all around the place.Some of them were huge and few were looking very catchy.

Afternoon session was little sleepy, but was made live again by Dan. As we had flown that morning itself we were feeling very sleepy. We returned to hotel and slept immediately. I got woken up by Chu for dinner.We decided to explore Italian food.

Olive Gardens was that Italian restaurant we went.The ambience was pleasing and even more pleasing was the service. Warm greetings, nice smiles & feeling that make you feel you are being taken special care. I opted for Pasta and Chu ordered for some Shrimp dish.Garlic bread was a nice appetizer.We sat & chatted for a while before food came.Pasta was tomoto based one with onion & pepper blend.The Pasta was tasty.

Pasta brought memories of those wonderful days of having Pasta in Brigade’s Barista. I was lost for a while somewhere before Chu asked what the matter was. I didn’t tell anything to her and just smiled. Meanwhile, in the next table there was a birthday bash and all hotel staff came & sung birthday song. In a matter of next half an hour so there were 6 birthday celebrations in the surrounding tables!!!I think hotel staff got tired singing b’day songs!

It is always good to see celebrations..I remembered those celebration times when we used to make our friends to stand on top of table in Pizza hut and almost used to embarrass them.

Back in the hotel and retired to our room.I had a nap before dinner,So I sat & watched a movie in the room.I don’t know if you have seen this movie ‘Ali G’.Total timepass movie where a good-for- nothing idiot becomes British MP accidently & then minister.(So you can call that a British movie version of Laloo!).

Day 2:
Class started early at 8:30 and went pretty well till lunch. Now big question was ‘where to go’? After much debate, we decided to go to Indian restaurant. We had an amazing session in ‘Priya’ Indian restaurant. Our menu read something like Chicken Kabab, Sheikh Kabab, Chicken Tikka Masala, Naan, and Navratna Kurma. The last two exclusively for me.We pepped the lunch with Mango lassi.Our team was so overwhelmed with the Indian food that they took some food back as parcel!

Afternoon session was a typical one with sleepy faces all around.Then we got a message that they are having ice-cream party in the office.So we quickly took a break and munched the amazing icecreams.

In the evening, my colleague Clarice took me in her Lexus so that she could drop me at 19th Avenue.It was almost a 30 mile drive.On way we talked plethora of topics.She couldn’t understand how Indian youth still (prefer to) stay with their parents even after being independent, how arranged marriages are possible, how people can manage to live together for decades.I was also little curious to know the social fabric of American society.

After a quite a long drive, she dropped me in front of Palm Courts. I waited there for a while before Archana finally appeared. The office she works is right in front of her apartments. It was so nice to see a known friend in an unknown place.

We went to her apartment and sat there for a long time talking about Bangalore, about Nagapatnam trip and of course our favorite Sakleshpur trip.We were both remembering Bangalore gang so much.We had almost forgotten Achhu’s colleagues who had come with her.After orange squash, Achhu took me out on a tour of her apartment.Showed gym, pool & her friends house.We had a good session of photography in her apartment.

Time was quickly running.So we cooked rice-sambar and finished the dinner.I took the cab back to hotel, which was a lengthy 30 miles.Again time to go back to my iPod, listening to Kannada songs I recently downloaded to my iPod. By 11:30 was back in hotel and tuned into the movie ‘Motorcycle Diaries’.

Motorcycle Diaries is a movie about…I think I’ve to come up with a separate blog for that.

Day 3:
Things were getting heated up in class.Today also class had started early.For lunch,we went to one more Mexican restaurant.I had Black Pea Burrito with hot Salsa.Back to office and things really got rolling.Also it happened that our client manager visited the office and met all of us.

By the time we left class it was 8:30 pm and directly we went in search of a new restaurant.But our search of Thai food was unsuccessful and finally we landed up in Subway.Got the Veggie Paddy Sub to room and enjoyed it with watching the movie,‘Around the world in 80 days’ starring Jackie Chan. Jackie’s movies are always good to watch and I being his fan for a long while, watched the movie with pleasure. I had memory of reading that Julius Varner book ‘Around the world in 80 days’ when I was in 9th Standard.I was curious to see how it is picturised and though movie greatly deviated from the original book, it was a good movie.

Day 4:
One more hectic session in class. Now we were totally into the thing.
Lunch we went to ‘Minni’s Kitchen’, an American Shoppe where I ordered Veggie Stack. Veggie Stack was seriously a stack with layers of vegetables, mushrooms, cheese, and sauces.Topped it with Strawberry lemonade.

Evening flight to LAX was at 6 pm.We decided to check-in early and ‘stand by’ so that we could get into any earlier flights.We somehow managed to got into 5’o clock flight. Flight of one & half hour was over before I finished my bunch of songs.It was good to see Air hostess men in shorts & T-Shirts against that typical suit they always wore.

So it was a good time in Phoenix with most of the free time being spent in restaurants exploring new food. Having people who also wants to explore with me was a plus point.Though there are less choices for Veggies like me, few of the dishes I tried were amazing.

And best part is that I’m going back to Phoenix again soon for one more training!!!

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